Aluminum oxide polyurethane
Liz, you're right to be concerned about possible indoor air quality issues from wood flooring finishes. The good news is there are now more decent alternatives to standard construction and interior design materials. You just need to do some homework.
There are three things to consider here:
- First, your concerns regarding the aluminum oxide finish itself.
- The second concern is what will happen when you eventually need to refinish the floor.
- The third concern deals with what's underneath that pretty bamboo surface.
Let's take each one separately. First - the finish itself.
Aluminum Oxide Finishes
Aluminum oxide finishes can be fast-curing and healthy from a chemical outgassing standpoint, depending on a few variables. Unlike some water-based polyurethane finishes, which often contain chemicals called glycols that may “outgas” for several months (and may not be easily detected by odors), UV-cured aluminum oxide finishes, which are modified urethane finishes, are often well-tolerated even by chemically sensitive individuals. This is particularly true if the finish is baked-on and UV-cured, which is usually the case with prefinished wood floors.
But here’s where things get more complicated, unfortunately. Besides low chemical toxicity, there are some additional factors to consider regarding an aluminum oxide finish. First, from a healthy house standpoint, very little if anything is known about possible health effects from the aluminum content in aluminum oxide floor finishes.
In the past few years, there has been a growing, heightened awareness of the potential toxicity from nano-sized heavy metals in products that touch the skin. Although this concern has been directed primarily at personal products, it is worth considering for any product that touches the skin. One MD I know of, whose patients include chemically sensitive people, has been strongly advising against aluminum oxide finishes, due to the possibility of aluminum oxide absorption through the skin on bare feet.
Prompted by these concerns, a client with an autistic child requested that I look into one particular flooring product, called Bellawood, a brand that is well tolerated by many chemically sensitive people. Bellawood is a solid hardwood flooring product, prefinished with UV-cured, baked-on aluminum oxide urethane. Bellawood is coated multiple times and comes with a 50-year warranty on the finish. I spoke with a technical expert who works for the industrial finish manufacturer that makes the Bellawood finish. He reported to me that the aluminum oxide particles in the finish are much larger than nano-sized. In fact, we both agreed that theoretically, the aluminum oxide particles are probably much too large to penetrate bare skin.
You might also like
3M Hookit Film Disc 360L, Aluminum Oxide, 5" Diameter, P1000 Grit, Purple (Pack of 100)
Wearmax-scratch-hardwood Flooring Scratch Repair Touch up & Remover-eliminate White Lines From Wood Floors
3M Stikit Film Disc Roll 360L, PSA Attachment, Aluminum Oxide, 5" Diameter, P400 Grit (Pack of 1)